Battle Battalions Dev Blog Entry #1 – Joe Bostic, Game Visionary

We’re excited to bring you the inside scoop on what it takes for a videogame to eventually see the light of day!  Introducing the inaugural entry of the Battle Battalions Developers Blog, which features a Q&A session with a prominent member of the Battle Battalions development team.  Below we’ll be interviewing Joe Bostic, one of the founding partners of Petroglyph and official Visionary for the game.   Be sure to check back here often as we add new Dev Blog entries covering topics like programming, design, artwork and more!  

What role(s) did you play in the development of Battle Battalions?

I was the Visionary for the game. This means I was responsible for making sure the game stayed true to the goals it was set out to achieve. There are countless good ideas that could be implemented, but game development must be focused in order to not lose direction. The Visionary is responsible for being the defense against outside forces that try to push the game in different directions.

What past or current games did you draw inspiration from when developing Battle Battalions? 

I was the original Visionary for End of Nations which had a similar idea at its core – tactical RTS combat with a progression system wrapper. Battle Battalions is a game that focuses on the core of that idea but is centered more around player-vs-player arena combat. Battle Battalions also draws from past RTS games I’ve worked on such as Dune II, Command & Conquer, Red Alert, etc. Traditional RTS games have an economic game that is just as important as the tactical game. Sometimes more so. Battle Battalions lets tactical combat reign supreme.

Have the basics of game design and development changed much since you broke into the industry or do you see the general principles used in game development as tested/timeless?

Game design and development has changed dramatically since the start of the industry. The general principle is the same as it always was, to create a fun and compelling game. The early days were very small teams, minimal management, and organic design process. Big teams of today mean lots of bureaucracy, extreme division of labor, and extensive game design documentation. Battle Battalions development harkened back to the earlier days of game development in that people performed different roles depending on the need of the moment, management staff was kept lean, and the game design was organic where we would iterate quickly. It was often the case where we would playtest an idea and come up with changes that the programmers would code in the afternoon so that we could test it out the next day. This kind of turn-around in game development doesn’t happen much in the modern large game projects.

What unique gameplay feature are you most proud of in the game?

Is there anything truly unique? However, the combination of RTS tactical combat without any replacement of destroyed units is a twist that makes tactical combat in Battle Battalions exciting. This magnifies the consequences and rewards of good tactical decision making, which is subdued in traditional RTS games where lost units are easily replaced.

What was the most challenging element to implement in this game’s development?

Making the game with a small team is very challenging. Rewarding as well, but challenging. Assembling a team of talented individuals who are self-starters and motivated is invaluable and was key to creating Battle Battalions.

What are your thoughts on the Free-to-Play (F2P) model?   Good for the gaming industry?   Passing fad or here to stay?

Free-to-Play games have their place in the industry. Their strength lies in having a low barrier to entry, which is great for games that require a large player base. They also allow players to spend only what they want. Some people have more disposable time and some have more disposable money. The Free-to-Play model lets both players compete.

What is your favorite Battalion and why?

I generally prefer to play with tanks. They move slower, but they tend to benefit by a more deliberate strategy.

What is an example of a specific in-game tactic that you love to execute to help win matches for your team?

The most interesting tactics seem to occur in the latter half of the match when players have fewer remaining units and victory (or defeat) is close. It is at those times where good timing and anticipating enemy movement can swing the game. Splitting up your forces during this end-game phase is both nerve wracking and exciting. Often, sacrificing units in order to keep a Primary Objective contested for just a few seconds longer can be the key to victory.